Study suggests humans mated with Neanderthals
2010 05 01

By Clara Moskowitz | CSMonitor.com

Humans today could be part Neanderthal, according to a new study that found our ancestors interbred with an extinct hominid species some millennia ago.

Neanderthals walked the Earth between about 130,000 and 30,000 years ago. While they co-existed with modern humans for a while, eventually they went extinct and we didn’t. There has been intense scientific debate over how similar the two species were, and whether they might have mated with each other.


A reconstruction is shown at the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, Germany, where the first remains of Neanderthal Man were found in 1856. A new study has found signs of ’some significant amount’ of interbreeding between early humans and Neanderthals.Newscom/File

"The issue has been highly contentious for some time," said University of New Mexico genetic anthropologist Keith Hunley.

Last week at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Albuquerque, N.M., Hunley and colleagues presented the results of a new study that found evidence for interbreeding between modern humans and some other extinct ancient human species – either Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) or another group such as Homo heidelbergensis. The research was first reported by NatureNews.

The researchers looked at DNA samples from humans living today, and found signs of leftover Neanderthal genes introduced from this interbreeding. They looked at genetic data from almost 2,000 people around the world, and calculated how much genetic variation existed between samples. The results indicate that some extinct group of hominids mixed their genes with ours at two points in history, Hunley said.

One period of interbreeding probably occurred shortly after Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa around 60,000 years ago. The researchers found an excess of genetic diversity in all modern people except Africans, suggesting that the influx of Neanderthal-like DNA came after the exodus from Africa.

A second period of interbreeding is suggested by the fact that the researchers measured even more genetic diversity among people of Oceanic descent – people from Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and other Pacific islands.

"I think we show there’s clear evidence in the genome of living people of this mixture," Hunley told LiveScience. "The fact that there’s a clear signal implies that there was some significant amount" of interbreeding, he said.

This work is the first time scientists have used DNA from living people to look at this question, Hunley said.

In an earlier study, Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis found suggestions of Neanderthal and modern human interbreeding by comparing ancient bone fossils from the two species.

Trinkaus said the new work fits into his findings, though he hasn’t reviewed the details yet since Hunley’s paper has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. "The conclusion makes sense and fits with the majority of the data available," Trinkaus said.

Another anthropologist who has studied Neanderthal anatomy agreed.

"I have been arguing for this position throughout my career, ever since I began to study Neandertals and other populations," said Milford Wolpoff of the University of Michigan. "It has always seemed clear that some Neandertal anatomy appears in living populations."

Not everyone, though, will be easily convinced yet, Hunley said.


Article from: CSMonitor.com



Related Articles
X Woman: Not human, not Neanderthal, what is she?
Fossil DNA tells tales of red-haired Neanderthals
Scientists believe that Neanderthal Man was not related to Homo Sapien (Video)
Neanderthal DNA degradation (Video)
Human Likely Killed Neanderthal, Weapons Test Shows
Scientists unravel Neanderthal genome
Return of the Neanderthals
Neanderthal, Human Ancestor Could Chat
Neanderthals: More Advanced Than Thought?
Some Neanderthals Were Redheads
Researchers may remake Neanderthal DNA
Early human relative predates even dinosaurs
Lloyd Pye - Everything you Know is Wrong (Video)


Latest News from our Front Page

UK hospital accused of selling body parts for booze
2014 07 31
A leading cancer hospital is to be investigated following allegations that one of its staff members exchanged human body samples for whisky and cash. The calls to investigate Christies NHS foundation trust came after the accusation was made by an anonymous whistleblower, prompting British MP Rosie Cooper to contact the watchdog, the Human Tissue Authority (HTA), the Manchester Evening News reports. British ...
15 dead, over 220 injured as multiple gas explosions hit Taiwan city
2014 07 31
Several blasts have ripped through Kaohsiung, a city in south-western Taiwan, killing 15, injuring over 220 and overturning the cars in the street, the Fire Agency said. The cause is thought to be gas leaks in the sewage system. The number of those injured is expected to rise, the Fire Department said. Many were also taken to schools across the city ...
TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR on front page of alleged U.S. criteria for terrorist list
2014 07 31
We highlighted the recent report from Glenn Greenwald’s site, The Intercept, about the United States administration’s ’Terror Watch List’, and how "a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database". Read: BLACKLISTED: The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist A reader with a sharp ...
Why is the State so obsessed by, and careless with, deadly pathogens?
2014 07 31
Earlier this month, we ran a report on the CDC anthrax blunder. As if that weren’t bad enough, there have been additional exposures since we posted that report. This time, it involved the shipment of live, highly contagious, and deadly H5N1 avian influenza samples. As previously reported, as many as 841 scientists and staff members at a US Centers for Disease ...
‘Catastrophic’: Hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer warns of EMP
2014 07 31
Imminent: ‘Only a matter of time’ until entire electric grid destroyed by natural or man-made event… Billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer is warning investors – and more broadly, lawmakers and leaders – about the potential destructive power of an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, which could be triggered by solar events or artificially, via blasts in the atmosphere. According to Singer, research ...
More News »